The 19th Newport Beach Film Festival is taking place now until May 3rd with over 300 films being screened from 50 countries. The theme for this year’s event is See Who Made the Cut. 

One of the highlights for this year’s event is the Pacific Rim Showcase section of the festival which includes a spotlight of films from South Korea, China, Japan, the Philippines and Australia.  The Pacific Rim Showcase takes place on Monday April 30th throughout various theaters in Orange County. 

Here is a list of the films:

South Korea Spotlight - “A Day”

A skilled doctor witnesses a tragic car accident. While trying to help, he finds that his daughter is one of the dying victims. As the worst day of his life begins to repeat itself, he realizes he may have a chance at saving his daughter with the risk of someone else dying. He attempts to save them both but will have time working against him.

Starring Myung-min Kim, Yo-han Byun and Chea-myung You

Directed by Cho Sun-ho, Written by Cho Sun-ho, Lee Sang-hak

Korean with English subtitles

The Philippines Spotlight - “Ulam: Main Dish”

This documentary follows the rise of the Filipino food movement and includes interviews with chefs who are crossing over to the center of the American table. The film confronts issues inherent in representing both Filipino and American identity, and challenges from both the Filipino community and the world at large. Featuring appearances by Alvin Cailan (Eggslut), Jon Eric Concordia and Christine Araquel-Concordia (The Park’s Finest), Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad (Maharlika, Jeepney), Romy Dorotan & Amy Besa (Purple Yam), Charles Olalia (Ricebar) Chase and Chad Valencia (LASA) and Andre Guerrero (The Oinkster, Maximiliano).

Q&A with Director Alexandra Cuerdo and Producer Rey Cuerdo

China Spotlight “End of Summer”

A timid fifth grader, an orthodox middle-aged teacher and a grumpy old man experience their first awakening to true self during the 1998 World Cup in China.

Cast includes Pao-Ming Ku, Songwen Zhang, Qing Dong, Zishan Rong, Zhou Tan

Directed by Quan Zhou, written by Maya Huang & Quan Zhou


Japan Spotlight - “3 Ft. Ball and Souls” (Sanjakudama)

Four troubled strangers who meet online decide to commit suicide together in person. However, a Ground Hog Day type event forces these strangers to open up and confide in each other in order to resolve some of their various issues.

Stars Honoka Murakami, Minehiro Kinomoto, Shinobu Tsuji, Kanji Tsuda

Directed/Produced/Written by Yoshio Kato

Japanese with English Subtitles

Australia Spotlight - “The Pretend One”

A young woman’s childhood imaginary friend, Hugo, is in love with her.  However, Hugo realizes that his existence is threatened when a real person becomes the woman’s love interest.

Q&A with filmmakers and actors after the screening

Directed by Tony Prescott, Screenwriter Tony Prescott, James Raue

Stars Geraldine Hakewill, Michael Whalley, Benedict Wall

The Pacific Rim Showcase takes place on Monday April 30th throughout various theaters in Orange County.  For more information and to purchase tickets to the festival, visit

2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

The 33rd annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival kicked off on April 27th with the screening of Justin Lin’s film, “Better Luck Tomorrow”. It’s hard to believe that it was 15 years ago when I first saw this movie. So much has happened since then, and at the same time, it's bittersweet to see that not much has changed. We can still relate to the characters of the film as well as their storylines.

I have been a huge supporter of the LAAPFF for several years and am always thrilled to see which movies will be screening.  The films being showcased are always some of the best and do a wonderful job in representing the talented filmmakers, directors, writers, and actors in our APA community. This year was no different.  

One example of this was Justin Chon’s movie, and Sundance Audience Award winner “Gook” which takes place during the 1992 LA Riots. “Gook” has received numerous positive reviews, including a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.7 rating on IMDB. Samuel Goldwyn also picked up the North American rights for the film, which is scheduled to be released sometime in August. “Gook” is screening at the LAAPFF Orange County on Wednesday, May 10th.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Chon throughout the years - from his “Twilight” roles to “Seoul Searching” and his other directorial debut movie, “Man Up.”   It’s such a thrill to see him go from talented actor, to director and writer. I cant wait to see what else Justin has in store for us.

I also had the opportunity to be a juror for the Shorts Documentary competition; which was also the first time this category was created.  What an honor!  Each of the short documentaries in the competition was told in their own beautiful way. The other jurors and I had a difficult time reaching a decision. 

In the end, The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Alisa Yang for her documentary, “Please Come Again” which centered on her story and the history of the love hotels in Japan.  After watching the short, I was completely speechless.  “Please Come Again” incorporated only text and visuals of the love hotels and the different meanings each room has held throughout the years.  It was not only a documentary on Alisa’s life, but also used the love hotels as a metaphor for the female body.

The Best Cinematography award was presented to “Forever, Chinatown”.  “Forever, Chinatown” follows the life of 81 year old artist, Frank Wong, who, for the past 40 years has recreated memories of his childhood, living in San Francisco’s Chinatown, through miniature models.  The cinematography for the short docu captured every intricate detail of the film, including Wong’s touching, nostalgic and some times bittersweet memories, the miniature models he created and was able to lucidly encapsulate the tone of the documentary. 

Jennifer Zheng took home the Best Director award for her documentary “Tough”.  Zheng’s choice in creating an animated documentary was an interesting but well told one.  “Tough” tells the story of a Chinese mother and British born daughter who openly talk as adults for the first time and honestly discuss growing up in their respective backgrounds and the cultural issues they struggled with.

Congratulations to all of the winners.

The Orange County portion of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is still going on until May 11th.  For more information and for tickets on the movies currently screening, you can head to